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Americans’ Trust in Media Declines For Third Consecutive Year, Differs Along Party Lines, Reports Knight Foundation

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Screenshot of NPR Journalist Lulu Garcia-Navarro from the Knight Foundation webcast

August 6, 2020 — While Americans still value the media’s traditional role in society, a new report found that trust in media has continued to decline over the past two years.

The Knight Foundation, in partnership with Gallup, polled over 20,000 U.S. adults to publish “American Views 2020: Trust, Media, and Democracy,” a report offering new insight into Americans’ evolving relationship with media.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro, a journalist at NPR, joined Sam Gill, senior vice president of the Knight Foundation, in a conversation on Wednesday to address the decline in trust of journalism.

“Information is coming at us all the time,” Garcia-Navarro said, adding that there is often “little understanding where it’s coming from and who is providing it.”

Garcia-Navarro argued that there were legitimate reasons for Americans to feel mistrust, and suggested that President Donald Trump’s continual accusations of ‘fake news’ make more of an impression on people than they may believe.

Trump’s framing of the media as an entity that is somehow against the government and the people has led to increased distrust, she said.

The consequences of this misinformation are reflected in the report, which found that party affiliation remains the key predictor of Americans’ attitudes towards the news media.

Nearly three-fourths of Republicans have a very or somewhat unfavorable opinion of the news media, compared to 22 percent of Democrats.

Garcia-Navarro and Gill agreed that funding local journalism plays a key role in rebuilding the trust between American’s and news media, as it encourages political and civic engagement.

Local newspapers, which have traditionally fed the news ecosystem, are currently struggling.

Advertising revenue, which traditionally fueled print media, has moved to digital behemoths like Google and Facebook.

Between 2004 and 2014, newspapers lost $30 billion in print ad revenue, according to a study conducted by the Newspaper Association of America and Pew Research Center.

As a result, newspapers around the country have been downsizing and closing for years.

“There are news deserts all over the country,” Garcia-Navarro said.

One possible solution, Garcia-Navarro continued, could be an oversight program requiring Google and Facebook to devote a portion of their digital ad revenue to funding nationwide local journalism initiatives.

The most important part of being a journalist is “amplifying the voices of real people,” Garcia-Navarro said, noting that she aims to make the public front and center on her radio shows.

“We are of the people and working for the people,” she said.

Media Ownership

LeGeyt Appointed President and CEO of National Association of Broadcasters

LeGeyt was the organization’s executive vice president of government relations and COO.

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Curtis LeGeyt

WASHINGTON, January 4, 2022 – The National Association of Broadcasters has appointed Curtis LeGeyt to serve as president and CEO, replacing Gordon Smith.

“It is an honor to lead this great organization and advocate for the local television and radio broadcasters that inform, entertain and serve their communities every day,” said LeGeyt in a statement. “I am grateful to our Board of Directors for placing its trust in me and look forward to working alongside them, the entire NAB team and our members to ensure a vibrant future for broadcasting.”

LeGeyt was previously the executive vice president of government relations and chief operating officer of NAB. He holds a JD from Cornell Law School.

“We are excited to now have Curtis at the helm to guide the organization into its next chapter. He is a proven leader and skilled fighter on behalf of broadcasters, and we are thrilled to have him serve as our voice in Washington and around the world,” said David Santrella, NAB joint board of directors chairman and CEO of Salem Media Group.

The previous president and CEO, Gordon Smith, served in this role for 12 years. Smith will remain with the NAB, albeit in an “advisory and advocacy” capacity. During his tenure, NAB took a hardline on big technology companies, condemning them as a threat to small TV and radio stations that make up local media, and called for citizens to voice their concerns to legislators.

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Media Ownership

Pandemic Isn’t Death Knell Of Theaters, Says Lionsgate Vice Chairman

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Screenshot from the webinar

February 24, 2021 – Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns said Tuesday he thinks theaters will be packed again once the pandemic ends, speaking at a New America event on the future of entertainment.

Suggesting the pandemic will not impair traditional theaters amid the rise in streaming adoption at home, Burns said the growing portfolio of films to feature in theaters under his studio will ensure traditional movie viewing doesn’t go away.

He noted that Lionsgate is associated with about 20 Tyler Perry movies, which will attract people to theaters. He also said a new program based on the The New York Times’ telling of America’s history with slavery, called 1619, will also draw viewers back.

Burns expressed optimism in a returning moviegoing population and cited that in the past, African Americans made up 5 percent of the movie going population. African Americans also make up 13 percent of the U.S. population. But over the last few years and before the pandemic began, they have made up about 20 percent of the movie going population, he said. This trend is in line with Hispanics, he said, and it gives hope to the entire industry that not even the pandemic can unseat the traditional movie theater.

He said he also hopes the older generation is ready to head back to the theaters, especially as people, young and old, develop pandemic fatigue and especially as vaccines continue rolling out.

Burns turned away doubt about his prediction by pointing to China’s recent New Year’s holiday box office performance the previous weekend, which enjoyed record-breaking box office revenues of $1.206 billion, demonstrating that the country’s film market has recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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News Organizations Must Have a Broad Representation in the Communities They Cover

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Screenshot from the webinar

February 9, 2021 – News organizations must have a broad representation in the communities they cover to reflect perspectives that would otherwise be missed, a panel of journalists said at a communications law conference.

It is not enough to simply cover events that involve people of color for diversity’s sake, heard the virtual conference hosted on February 2 by the American Bar Association.  Those covering events should be diverse themselves, and upper management must ensure diversity is being reported, said Johnita Due, senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Warner Media News and Sports, who is Black.

Upper management at news organizations needs to already be planning and covering stories about minorities and people of color before major events occur, instead of just following up on stories covering the high-profile deaths of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, and Breonna Taylor.

Ensuring journalists know the community they are covering will help empower coverage so critical to informing and, in some cases, reforming laws and policies that often negatively harm minority communities. And diversity, equity, and inclusion needs to come from the top of the organization, with leaders who represent the communities they represent, said Anzio Williams, senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at NBC Universal Stations, who is black.

While many stories about diversity exist, it is not always easy to cover them because sometimes people do not believe it is important to cover, said Mireya Villareal, a news correspondent at CBS News.

People too often undervalue their own diversity and wrongfully deem it as unworthy, but their stories do matter, she said. When major stories break that involve diversity, it is still important to have diverse people behind the scenes helping make decisions on what and how to cover such events.

When the Minneapolis Star Tribune was preparing its front page headline the day after George Floyd died, the news organization faced a serious challenge: should the entire photo of Officer Chauvin kneeling on George’s neck be published, or should some of it be cropped? Was it right to partially hide or reveal the entirety of the event?

First, you need to ask yourself if anyone in the community will be injured, or re-traumatized by showing the full photo, said Kyndell Harkness, a photo editor for the Tribune. In the end, her team decided to publish a cropped cut showing only Floyd’s face, and offer in subsequent pages information for readers to go to the news site to watch a full video of the incident.

News organizations are always asking themselves: How can we cover this better? And the answer is having those covering stories be representative of its community, many are saying.

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